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Writing and Publishing in the Medical and Health Sciences: Avoiding Predatory Publishers

This guide is intended to inform authors about the key features of scholarly writing and publishing in the medical and health sciences.

Too good to be true?

Have you checked your inbox recently?  Is it filled with emails asking you to submit articles, join editorial boards or speak at conferences? You may be receiving dangerous invitations from predatory publishing companies.

Are you promised quick peer review for the submission of a manuscript? Does the promise of a speedy publication process sound very appealing to you? The solicitations may be coming from predatory journal publishers. 

Due diligence prior to submitting your manuscript

 

  1. Check that the publisher provides full, verifiable contact information, including address, on the journal site. Be cautious of those that provide only web contact forms.
     
  2. Check that a journal's editorial board lists recognized experts with full affiliations. Contact some of them and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher.
     
  3. Check that the journal prominently displays its policy for author fees.
     
  4. Be wary of e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become an editorial board member.
     
  5. Read some of the journal's published articles and assess their quality. Contact past authors to ask about their experiences.
     
  6. Check that a journal's peer-review process is clearly described and try to confirm that any claimed impact factor is correct.
     
  7. Find out whether the journal is a member of an industry association that vets its members, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org) or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (www.oaspa.org).
     
  8. Use common sense, as you would when shopping online: if something looks strange, or sounds too good to be true, proceed with caution.

From Investigating journals: The dark side of publishingNature, March 27, 2013

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Additional signs a journal may be low-quality or predatory

 

1. The scope of interest includes non-biomedical subjects alongside biomedical topics, or is overly broad.

2. The website contains spelling and grammar errors.

3. Images are distorted/fuzzy, intended to look like something they are not, or are unauthorized copies.

4. The homepage language targets authors, encouraging submission and highlighting low costs or quick turnaround times.

5. The Index Copernicus Value is promoted on the website.

6. Description of the manuscript handling process is lacking in detail.

7. Manuscripts are requested to be submitted via email without any previous contact or approval.

8. Rapid publication is promised.

9. There is no retraction policy.

10. Information on whether and how journal content will be digitally preserved is absent.

11. The Article processing/publication charge is very low (e.g., < $150 USD).

12. Journals claiming to be "open access" either retain copyright of published research or fail to mention copyright

13.The contact email address is non-professional and non-journal affiliated (e.g., @gmail.com or @yahoo.com)

Source: Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals:Can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Medicine, March 16, 2017